How much water you should drink on a daily basis varies from person to person and depends on your body type, weight, lifestyle, diet, where you live and other factors.
While everyone has different needs, nutritionists generally recommend that an adequate amount of water for the average healthy adult is:
- About 2.7 liters (11.5 cups) a day for women
- About 3.7 liters (15.5 cups) a day for men
Since about 20% of your daily water intake already comes from the food you eat, it’s important to focus on the remaining 80%.
What factors affect how much water you need to drink each day?
You may need more or less water than another person. While sticking to the baseline above is a good way to manage your water intake, keep in mind that how much you need to drink to stay properly hydrated depends on the following factors:
- Young children and preteens need at least 1 liter of water a day, although anything more than that is also beneficial.
- Teenagers and adults should have a minimum of about 2 liters of water a day, although the baseline amounts are better for optimal hydration.
Body mass and weight
- The more you weigh, the more water you need to stay hydrated. Someone who weighs 200 pounds will need more fluids than someone who weighs 100 pounds to keep organs operating smoothly.
- A study published in the Annals of Family Medicine found that people with higher body mass index (BMI) were the least hydrated, suggesting that water intake may play as big a role as diet and exercise in weight loss.
- The amount of water you need depends on how active you are. If you’re active during the day and regularly stand or walk around, you will need to drink more than someone who sits at a desk all day.
- If you exercise a lot, you’ll also need more water to stay hydrated. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends drinking 16 ounces of water before you exercise, 4-8 ounces during exercise and another 16 ounces after exercise.
Temperature and weather
- If you live in an area with very hot or dry weather, you may need to consume a little more to compensate for water loss.
Pregnancy or breastfeeding
- If you’re pregnant, your daily water intake may need to increase by a liter or more, depending on your weight and BMI. Your doctor will usually tell you how much water you need to drink each day for the health of you and your baby.
- After giving birth, you will need to drink more water to stay hydrated to compensate for the loss of energy during labor.
- If you are breastfeeding, your body is exerting a lot of energy and may demand even more water.
What are the benefits of drinking more water every day?
Good hydration is necessary for several body functions, helping to:
What should you avoid when increasing your water intake?
Foods to avoid
Eating water-rich snacks such as melon, berries and cucumber slices can help you increase your daily water intake through food, and beverages like milk or herbal tea are also good sources of hydration. But beware of caffeinated drinks like coffee and soda, since these are dehydrating.
Don’t overdo it
Drinking too much water could lead to hyponatremia (low sodium levels), also known as water intoxication, where sodium levels in the body become overly diluted. This can lead to swelling in the brain, seizures and coma. So if you’re feeling quenched, don’t overdo it.
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